their disarray, they began yelling HITLER! Aside from
the attempted intimidation, one suspects a certain intellectual
dishonesty here. Perhaps these people believe their
own propaganda, having lost track of the real Pat Buchanan
and his views some time ago.
allegedly wishes that Nazi Germany had won its
wars. This hogwash goes, of course, to his supposed
anti-Semitism and that goes to his being
right-wing. The Right is the source of all
evil: hate(!), ethnic animosity, nationalism, localism
(always evil), insensitivity, fist-fights, guns, John
Wayne movies, etc. all leading straight to fascism.
Even ideologically empty Republicans have to watch themselves.
is nothing new. In the fifties, American disciples of
the Marxist charlatan, Theodor Adorno, branded all critics
of the New Deal (and socialism) potential fascists.
The Birchers, with their laissez faire capitalism, constitutionalism,
and funny views about Eisenhower, were fascists.
Goldwater was a fascist. (Actually, Barry was that unstable
Conservative mixture, a domestic libertarian and foreign
Once, Americans could criticize past wars without being
demonized. Say a kind word for Robert E. Lee, these
days, and youre a monster plotting to restore
slavery by Wednesday. Many Americans historical
memory goes back all of two weeks. One expected more
from opinion leaders and journalists.
pundits have a vision of World War
II and Buchanan has spoiled it. The actual history is
inconvenient. World War I and the 1919 peace
left European society physically and morally
ruined, with renewed war looming. Bolsheviks began their
experiment proving that with enough
hellbentness you can kill 20-some million of
your own people. In Italy, Germany, and
elsewhere fascist movements posed believably,
at first as the bulwark against the Communist
contagion. In Asia, Japanese ambition and fears led
to confrontation with the United States, whose leaders
insisted on an Open Door to the markets of Asia. Wars
got under way. Britain and France committed themselves
to Poland, which, nonetheless, went quite unsaved.
Americans wanted no part of it. Wilson had helped make
the Versailles peace but the American
people repudiated his legacy in 1920. They didnt
want a rerun any time soon. Scholars and other writers
took critical look at the First World War. Anti-interventionist
feeling pervaded the country. This view of things
and not a desire to wear armbands, grow funny
mustaches, and stage big parades actuated the
American antiwar forces of 1939-1941.
remembers what conventional liberals and conservatives
dont: that a large American minority doubted St.
Franklins judgment and were prepared to stay out
the war until it came to us. Some isolationists
would have been prepared to aid Britain if the Nazis
had launched an actual invasion of the British Isles.
After the Battle of Britain, the Germans couldnt
even make serious plans to cross the Channel, and after
June 1941 they were knee-deep in Adolfs Big Muddy
is right. At this time, Hitler did not threaten
America. To say this is not the same as nominating the
Fuehrer for the Nobel Peace Prize. Hitler was a first-rate
monster, but the moral fine-tuning needed to justify
crusading against him hand-in-hand with the Butcher
Stalin wore many people out and still does.
views differ little from those of historian Charles
A. Beard, widely regarded as a progressive
until he dissented from FDR-worship. Beards alternative
was Continentalism: the serious defense
of the Western Hemisphere enforcing the Monroe Doctrine
rather than using it as a cynical backdrop to looting
Latin America for New York bankers.
joining the bloodbath of World War II saved us, just
barely. But the wars institutional, moral, and
constitutional costs undermined our whole way of life
with unconstitutional precedents for presidential war-making,
permanent controls, and bloated bureaucracies. The isolationist
writer William Henry Chamberlin called intervention
a short-cut to fascism and, in truth, the
welfare-warfare state made great strides during the
war. The Cold War with its mobilization-in-permanence
nailed the new system down for 40 more years.
is not about one mans eccentric views
about events long ago. Anything short of total belief
in the received version of World War II and the
Big Government it enthroned threatens the Establishment
with a real debate, finally, about the purposes of American
foreign policy. That is what drives the campaign against
Buchanans frightful heresies.
understands that World War I and its inevitable
sequel are the key disasters of the blood-drenched
20th century. Career diplomatic George Kennan commented
in 1951: "Yet, today, if one were offered the chance
of having back again the Germany of 1913 a Germany
run by conservative but relatively moderate people,
no Nazis and no Communists, a vigorous Germany, united
and unoccupied, full of energy and confidence, able
to play a part again in the balancing-off of Russian
power in Europe well, there would be objections
to it from many quarters, and it wouldn't make everybody
happy; but in many ways it wouldn't sound so bad, in
comparison with our problems of today. Now, think what
this means. When you tally up the total score of the
two [world] wars, in terms of their ostensible objective,
you find that if there has been any gain at all, it
is pretty hard to discern."1
Conservative historian Niall Ferguson comes to similar
conclusions in his The
Pity of War: Explaining World War I
(1999). There he argues that had Britain stayed
out of World War I, Bolshevism would never have triumphed
in Russia, Hitler and his movement could never have
come to power in Germany, and Britain would not have
exhausted its substance and undermined its empire. Germanys
vague pre-war ambitions do not demonstrate a plan
to launch an aggressive war for hegemony, and German
planning, once the war was under way, was no more or
less reprehensible than the Allies plans to carve
up the Ottoman empire, seize German colonies, and break
up Austria-Hungary. The difference is that the Allies
got to carry out their plans.
supposed worse case scenario is one in which
the German Empire under Wilhelm I would have dominated
much of European economically. This seems rather benign
compared to the actual history that we got. Since a
German-dominated European economic community is what
we have now, Ferguson asks whether postponing that outcome
for 80 years was worth the price paid. As for German
hegemony being authoritarian and arbitrary,
let him who finds the present European union without
sin in those areas cast the first stone.
brings us back to what made a clear-cut Allied victory
possible: Woodrow Wilsons interference, moral
grandstanding, and commitment to the Open Door. The
costs and consequences of American intervention in World
War I are incalculable. Here again, Buchanan
like the Old Right is on solid ground.
is certainly room for honest discussion of these matters.
Demonizing the skeptics may not be the most honest or
productive approach. Interventionists are loathe to
debate such questions. The One Good War is their best
showcase for the glories and necessity
of eternal world-meddling. If that can be questioned
in the slightest detail their whole world-outlook
bids fair to unravel.
Congressmen are presently exercised that Bill the President
spent untold taxpayer dollars on his African junket,
where he apologized for slavery quite possibly
to descendants of the very African slave-dealers who
helped supply the world market for several centuries.
If apology is in the air, there are a few I would like
to see. When will the Mongols, for one, apologize for
the Great Plague which cut Europes population
by one third to one half? When will Mr. Lincolns
government apologize for those famous fires in Atlanta
and Columbia or were they as accidental
and unintended as a stray NATO missile taking
out a Bulgarian bridge? Several right-wing political
parties in South Africa want to know when Mr. Tony Blair
will apologize for the 27,000 Afrikaner women and children
who died in British concentration camps during the Boer
War? (Im just passing this one along.) When will
Uncle Sam say a world of apology, however brief, to
those 220,000 Filipinos who had to die so he could bring
Yankee school marms, modern sanitation, and good government
to the islands? Just curious. And I havent even
brought up those Koreans.
See George F. Kennan, American
Diplomacy 1900-1950, Mentor edition, p. 51.
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